Funding for marketer/networker to grow inclusion initiative
Lisa Bailey

PosAbilities’ Can You Dig it! community garden initiative aims to cultivate growth and sustainability with funding from the newly-formed Community Living Innovation Venture.

Team manager Gerry Fremming says the search has begun for a project marketer/networker to be paid with the $40,000 awarded at the Venture’s unique Pitch In evening March 1, where four B.C.-based innovators made their case for funding to a panel of judges.

The marketer/networker will identify a marketing strategy and connect with larger organizations and businesses to grow the initiative in the province.

“We want this to be sustainable,” Gerry says, identifying one of the Venture’s funding criteria. “And so we’re going to look for corporate sponsors — not just to get their financial support but to get them involved in Can You Dig It! because the whole goal is to connect people who have a developmental disability with the community, and to give back.”

20 Gardens and growing across Metro Vancouver

Formed through a number of partnerships, the Venture awarded a total of $100,000 to the four collaborations, all of which are advancing the inclusion and belonging of people who have a disability through social innovation.

These first four funding recipients are all fairly well established, grassroots partnerships and will be part of the new Venture Learning Lab to help others understand and learn from their start-up and development experiences.

Gerry says the lab is an exciting way of “creating a circle of support.”

“When you bring people together, there’s all the support you can receive from other individuals as well as expertise, and it strengthens the project and advances it more,” she says.

Gerry believes the collaboration at the root of Can You Dig It! is largely behind its selection for the Venture’s support.

“In the two years that we’ve been up and running with this initiative, we’ve managed to develop some wonderful partnerships in the community, and that’s what inclusion is all about,” Gerry says, estimating that 15 partners have been involved in the project in some way.

Can You Dig It! has established 20 food-growing community gardens and 260 plots at sites around the Lower Mainland owned by posAbilities, other social-service agencies, the United Church and the City of Vancouver. More than 700 people have involved, including more than 160 individuals who have a disability.

More partnerships are in the works this year and Can You Dig It! recently launched a website, Gerry says. She gives kudos to project co-ordinator Cinthia Pagé whose enthusiasm “certainly helps drive the project forward.”

Word of mouth and extensive media coverage have also helped to create a buzz around Can You Dig It!

The project speaks to the power and potential of partnerships.

“Who knows where connections can take you,” Gerry says. “When we first came up with the idea for Can You Dig It!, who knew where it would take us and two years later, look where it is. . . . We can certainly create some definition, some structure, some infrastructure and some ideas but we also leave ourselves open to any possibilities, and it’s been very interesting. It’s been a magical project.”

To learn more about Can You Dig It! visit the website at

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